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Bad News Days

26 September 2012, 19:19

Without too much ado, I’m going to launch straight into a diatribe on my pet peeve: e-tolling.

Now I realise that other countries around the world have electronic tolling on their best roads, but the difference here is this: these are not our best, but our only. And they’ve been built with our hard-earned tax money. And they’re certainly not world class.

To add insult to injury, they’re still working on these roads, creating bottlenecks stretching back kilometres, for which we will soon be paying a fee. They then compare the e-tolling with the Congestion Tax in London. There is a t-i-i-iny little difference, however.

London has a truly world-class public transport system. Not the Gautrain, which is a poor, expensive excuse for public transport, but a train and bus system that connects every part of London. So you don’t need to use a car.

That is the difference.

This is truly government of the unwilling by the unwitting. And as long as we continue on this merry little path, we’ll be treated this badly, and worse.

There is a truism which is valid in this case: we teach people how to treat us.

We may have an economy which punches above its weight, but I fear that, at the present rate this will not continue. How can it, when there are on-going strikes, which the outside world may not really take note of, but investors certainly will.

The strikes turn violent all too often, as is the nature of strikes. I remember the strikes in Britain in the seventies and how often they turned violent, and they didn’t have our gung-ho police to deal with. The British police are probably the best in the world, and there were still violent clashes.

Our police resemble the Keystone Cops only in ineptitude. They resemble the STASI in other respects. The STASI were the East German police, and feared by everyone. In South Africa, one keeps a low profile, and hopefully out of the way of the police.

The British Bobby is synonymous with law and order. He is to be respected because he has earned that respect. We cannot say that about our police. In the bad old days, black people feared the police because of the pass laws, amongst many indignities heaped upon them. Today, in South Africa 2012, everyone fears the police, and with good reason.

So we have the Metro police pulling people off on our highways and fining them for not having e-tags, even before the due date. We have people who have purchased e-tags and had huge amounts deducted from their bank accounts. And then we are told that we cannot expect a free ride on world class roads. Why not? We paid for them!

This is a government that has never been responsible to the electorate, and never will be. The ANC is elected, and every person from then on is appointed. Democracy? How?

This will no doubt count as a white whinge, and I suppose it is, but I remember a time, not too long ago, in Thabo Mbeki’s first term, when I thought, ‘This is actually working! They’re breaking the African trend!’ Boy, was I mistaken!

Nelson Mandela set a trend when he released violent offenders for his birthday celebrations, and I suppose we should have seen the writing on the wall then. He was not a bad president, but neither was he a good one. Thabo Mbeki, in his first term, was. Unfortunately that changed. About Zuma, the less said, the better.

So when you next go to the polls to cast your vote, it might be a good idea to look at how much e-tolling, various taxes on petrol and the general cost of living took out of your budget, and how much you have left at the end of it all, before you make your cross.

Or the cross will become too heavy to bear.

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